(CBS4) — A drone video of a small bear cub climbing a steep, snowy cliff to reach its mother went viral — and many thought it was an inspiring example of persistence, strength and love. But wildlife experts say the bears were actually trying to get away from the drone — and that it put the animals at risk.
“By harassing animals, drones can chase them into dangerous positions, as was the case with the bear cub. They can interrupt hunts, cause high levels of stress, chase animals over long distances, and drive them away from sources of food or parts of the landscape they depend upon,” science writer Ed Yong stated in an article published by The Atlantic.
Yong cited interviews with biologists and warned the drone “drove them into a dangerous situation that almost cost the cub its life.”
The Star described the video as “irresponsible, and possibly life-threatening to the bears.”
The paper quoted grizzly bear researcher Clayton Lamb, who said a female grizzly usually wouldn’t dare take a cub that small on such a steep slope.
“I think the drone definitely put these animals at risk. I think that cub could have been severely injured, or potentially killed if it went off that cliff,” The Star quoted Lamb as saying. “I can certainly see that the animals are agitated, and that is evidence that the female keeps looking up at the drone.”
Dr. Sophie Gilbert, a professor at the University of Idaho, also spoke out on social media about the drone video.
“Pro tip: when animals are running away, they DEFINITELY WANT YOU TO STOP CHASING THEM WITH THE DRONE!!! This is just about the most obvious message ever, but somehow, it still needs to be said,” Gilbert tweeted.